Description of Historic Place
Point Prim Lighthouse is located in a grassy clearing at the end of Point Prim on a point of land extending into the Northumberland Strait. It marks the southeastern entrance to Hillsborough Bay and Charlottetown Harbour. The lighthouse is a tapered, cylindrical, brick structure covered in wood shingles, and measures 18.3 metres (60 feet) from base to vane. The tower possesses a prominent but elegant taper and a projected lantern platform supported by brackets. It is topped by a multi-sided cast iron lantern.
The Point Prim Lighthouse is a heritage lighthouse because of its historical, architectural, and community values.
Point Prim was the first lighthouse in Prince Edward Island. It was built in 1845, nearly 30 years before Prince Edward Island joined Confederation. This major coastal light protects mariners from the extensive reefs at the entrance to Charlottetown Harbour. The Point Prim Lighthouse is an excellent example of the early establishment of coastal navigational aids. It is linked to the expansion of navigation and trade in the region during the 19th century. The lighthouse is one of the oldest surviving towers in Canada.
Point Prim Lighthouse was constructed during a period of dramatic population growth in Prince Edward Island. The provision of aids to navigation into the colony’s principal port of Charlottetown had become a matter of increased urgency. Its establishment was welcomed by the marine community in Charlottetown and in the Northumberland Strait as an excellent resource for navigators in the region.
The Point Prim Lighthouse is an atypical design for a lighthouse in Canada. It is a tapered, cylindrical, brick structure covered in wood shingles. It has an elegant simplicity of form and is visually striking. The tower is valued for its excellent aesthetics, and is one of only two in Canada to combine a round form with brick construction. The lighthouse is characterized by its round, well-proportioned exterior, pronounced taper, and sparse exterior profile.
Overall, the Point Prim Lighthouse is structurally sound. This speaks to the quality of its materials, craftsmanship, and design. The exterior brickwork was covered with cedar shingles two years after its construction as protection from the elements. The excellent craftsmanship of this lighthouse is evidenced in the brickwork and shingle outer-cladding.
Set in an open field facing the sea, the lighthouse is the only structure on the point and is a dominant landmark within its maritime setting. It establishes the maritime character of its immediate site and surrounding area. The lighthouse possesses an isolated character asthe area outside the lighthouse clearing is forested, and beyond this is farmland. The point extends into the Northumberland Strait and is surrounded on three sides by water.
The lighthouse is a well-known landmark in the province, and is a revered symbol island-wide. The site is a community park and a popular spot among locals for picnics and other community events. As the oldest lighthouse in the province and a site easily accessible using local roads, the lighthouse is also a tourist attraction for visitors to Prince Edward Island. A community museum opened in the early 1980s offers guided tours of the tower, displays of historical artifacts, and interpretation of the lighthouse’s history.
No related buildings are included in the designation.
The following character-defining elements of the Point Prim Lighthouse should be respected:
— its location on a point of land extending into the Northumberland Strait;
— its intact, as-built structural form, height, profile, and balanced proportions characterized by its cylindrical, tapered, tower;
— its cylindrical brick structure with tapered sides sheathed in white wood shingles;
— its twelve-sided, superimposed gallery with brackets, surrounded by metal railing;
— its twelve-sided iron lantern;
— its foot-thick exterior walls of brick, faced with wood shingles;
— its four windows and door aligned vertically on one side of the tower;
— its traditional red and white exterior colour scheme, consisting of a white tower and red lantern; and
— its visual prominence in relation to the water and landscape.